Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia is an ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in southeastern Pennsylvania, in the United States. It covers the City and County of Philadelphia as well as Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties. The diocese was erected by Pope Pius VII on April 8, 1808, from territories of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Originally the diocese included all of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and seven counties and parts of three counties in New Jersey. The diocese was raised to the dignity of a metropolitan archdiocese on February 12, 1875. The seat of the archbishop is the Cathedral-Basilica of Ss. Peter & Paul.

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Archidioecesis Philadelphiensis
Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter & Paul
Coat of arms
CountryUnited States
TerritoryPhiladelphia City and County, counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery, Pennsylvania
Ecclesiastical provinceMetropolitan Province of Philadelphia
Area2,183 sq mi (5,650 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2013)
1,489,000 (36.6%)
DenominationRoman Catholic
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedApril 8, 1808
CathedralCathedral-Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul
Patron saintPeter and Paul the Apostles
Secular priests619
Current leadership
ArchbishopCharles J. Chaput
Auxiliary BishopsJohn J. McIntyre
Michael J. Fitzgerald
Timothy C. Senior
Edward Michael Deliman
Bishops emeritusJustin Rigali
Robert P. Maginnis

It is also the Metropolitan See of the Ecclesiastical Province of Philadelphia, which includes the suffragan episcopal sees of Allentown, Altoona-Johnstown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton. The territory of the province is coextensive with the state of Pennsylvania.

History of the archdiocese

The history of the Catholic Church in the area dates back to William Penn and when Mass was said publicly as early as 1707.[1] On April 8, 1808, the suffragan dioceses of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Bardstown (moved to Louisville in 1841) were erected by Pope Pius VII from the territory of the Diocese of Baltimore, which was simultaneously raised to the rank of metropolitan archdiocese.[2] Michael Egan was appointed as the first bishop[3] and was consecrated as a bishop on October 28, 1810, by Archbishop John Carroll.[4]

In 1868, the dioceses of Harrisburg, Scranton, and Wilmington were erected from the territory of the diocese (the Wilmington diocese also received parts of Maryland and Virginia).[1] Philadelphia was raised to a metropolitan archiepiscopal see on February 12, 1875,[1] with Harrisburg and Scranton among its suffragan dioceses. On January 28, 1961, the five northern counties of Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton, and Schuylkill were split off from the archdiocese, to create the Diocese of Allentown.

By 1969, the archdiocese had grown to 1,351,704 parishioners, 1,096 diocesan priests, 676 priests of religious institutes and 6,622 religious women.[1]

Beginning in 2005, members of the diocese and its hierarchy have been heavily impacted by sexual abuse scandals. Two grand jury reports, guilty pleas and convictions indicate administrative mishandling of cases and other issues.

In February 2012, the diocese announced the largest reorganization of their elementary and high school education system, with numerous recommended school closings and/or mergers.

In a Thursday, August 23, 2012 online news story article about the Archdiocese's schools by Lou Baldwin of Catholic News Service (CNS), it was announced that the Faith in the Future Foundation would assume management of the seventeen archdiocesan high schools and the four special education schools.[5]


Bishops of Philadelphia

  1. Michael Francis Egan, O.F.M. (1808–1814)
  2. Henry Conwell (1819-1841)
  3. Francis Patrick Kenrick (1842–1851), appointed Archbishop of Baltimore
  4. Saint John Nepomucene Neumann, C.Ss.R. (1852–1860)

(Ambrose Maréchal, P.S.S. was appointed in 1816; did not take effect.)

Archbishops of Philadelphia

  1. James Frederick Wood (1860–1883), raised to Archbishop in 1875
  2. Patrick John Ryan (1884–1911)
  3. Edmond Francis Prendergast (1911–1918)
  4. Cardinal Dennis Joseph Dougherty (1918–1951)
  5. Cardinal John Francis O'Hara, C.S.C. (1951–1960)
  6. Cardinal John Joseph Krol (1961–1988)
  7. Cardinal Anthony Joseph Bevilacqua (1988–2003)
  8. Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali (2003–2011)
  9. Charles Joseph Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. (2011–present)

Coadjutor bishops

Auxiliary Bishops

Other priests in the archdiocese who became bishops

Note: Years in parentheses indicate the time of service as a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, prior to appointment to the episcopacy. Living members of this list are shown first, followed by those who are deceased.

The parish structure

The archdiocese is sub-divided into 12 Regional Deaneries, each administered by a Regional Dean. Present Deans and their Deaneries are as follows:

Regional Deaneries

Parishes of Philadelphia

Educational institutions

Circa 1912 there were about 68,000 students in Catholic schools within the archdiocesan territory. This increased to 250,000 in 1961, but the figures decreased after that year. Enrollment was down to 68,000 in 2012.[8] There were about 50,000 students in Catholic schools in the city of Philadelphia in 2000, and this figure decreased to 30,000 in 2010. In that span one Catholic high school and 23 Catholic elementary schools closed or merged, and the proliferation of charter schools in that period meant that the number of students combined in that type of school outnumbered that of the remaining Philadelphia Catholic schools.[9]

In 2012 the archdiocese proposed closing or merging 18 schools in Philadelphia and 31 schools outside of Philadelphia; the Philadelphia Inquirer stated this would further weaken Philadelphia's middle class.[10] The proposal would affect 24% and 29% of the senior high and K-8 schools, respectively.[11]

Elementary schools

The first Catholic school established in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was at St. Mary Parish in Philadelphia during the late eighteenth century. During the nineteenth century, Bishop Kenrick encouraged the establishment of Catholic schools. Subsequently, St. John Neumann (1851–1860) made the establishment of parish elementary schools a priority and by 1860 there were seventeen parish elementary schools in Philadelphia. Between 1900 and 1930, Catholic elementary schools increased to 124 schools in Philadelphia and 78 schools in the four suburban counties. Between 1945 and 1965, 62 new Catholic elementary schools were established.

In 2012, about 25% of the students in Philadelphia Catholic elementary schools were not Catholic.[9] In 2010 South Philadelphia Catholic elementary schools had 2,572 students, a decline by 27% from the 2006 figure.[8]

Special Needs schools

With the foundation of Archbishop Ryan School for Children with Deafness in 1912, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia school system began serving families of children with special needs. St. Katherine Day School and Our Lady of Confidence School, serving students with mental retardation, were opened in 1953 and 1954 respectively, after parent petitions to John Cardinal O'Hara. St. Lucy Day School for Children with Visual Impairment followed in 1955. Queen of the Universe Day Center was added in 1980 to serve students with mental retardation in Bucks County. These five schools are supported by the Catholic Charities Appeal.

High schools within the archdiocese

Diocesan high schools

Leadership within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia envisioned a continued comprehensive education for secondary students.

The first free Catholic high school in the United States was the "Roman Catholic High School of Philadelphia", founded for the education of boys in 1890. (It is often referred to as "Roman Catholic", occasionally as "Catholic High", and most commonly as "Roman".) The "Catholic Girls High School" was founded in 1912. Mary McMichan, one of the school's founders, requested in her last will that the school be renamed in honor of her brother. The school became "John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls High School" after her death. Both schools are still in existence.

Between 1916 and 1927 West Catholic Boys and Girls and Northeast Catholic were opened. Despite the economic hardships of the 1930s and 1940s, seven more diocesan high schools were founded. During a 22-year growth period from 1945 to 1967, fifteen high schools were opened.

Philadelphia high schools
Bucks County high schools
Chester County high schools
Delaware County high schools
Montgomery County high schools
Former Philadelphia Archdiocese Parochial High Schools

Private high schools

Though not funded or operated by the archdiocese, the following independent schools operate "with the blessing and spiritual support of the archdiocese:"


Colleges and universities within the archdiocese

Note: Each Roman Catholic college and university within the archdiocese is affiliated with a religious institute, rather than the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.


The sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania, U.S., is a significant episode in the series of Catholic sex abuse cases in the United States, Ireland and elsewhere. The Philadelphia abuses were substantially revealed through a grand jury investigation in 2005. In early 2011, a new grand jury reported extensive new charges of abusive priests active in the archdiocese. In 2012, a guilty plea by priest Edward Avery and the related trial and conviction of Monsignor William Lynn and mistrial on charges against Rev. James J. Brennan followed from the grand jury's investigations. In 2013, Rev. Charles Engelhardt and teacher Bernard Shero were tried, convicted and sentenced to prison. Lynn was the first official to be convicted in the United States of covering up abuses by other priests in his charge and other senior church officials have been extensively criticized for their management of the issue in the archdiocese.

Margie Winters

In 2015, it was reported that the school's long-serving director of religious education, Margie Winters, had been fired from the Waldron Mercy Academy after a parent had reported her directly to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for marrying her long-term lesbian partner in a civil ceremony in 2007. Winters had been upfront with school administrators at the time of her hiring and was advised to keep a low profile which she says she did. Many parents expressed anger and concern over the school's decision. Principal Nell Stetser justified the decision by arguing that "many of us accept life choices that contradict current Church teachings, but to continue as a Catholic school, Waldron Mercy must comply with those teachings." But she called urgently for "an open and honest discussion about this and other divisive issues at the intersection of our society and our Church." The Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput, however, has not yet responded to such a call and instead spoke out in favour of her firing, simply calling the dismissal "common sense.".[15][16]


The Catholic Standard & Times (newspaper)

Saints of Philadelphia

Shrines of Philadelphia

See also


  1. A Brief History of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Archived 2009-08-02 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
  2. See: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore#History.
  3. "Bishop Michael Francis Egan, O.F.M." David M. Cheney. Retrieved March 11, 2010.
  4. "Archbishop John Carroll". David M. Cheney. Retrieved March 11, 2010.
  5. "CNS STORY: Philadelphia Archdiocese, foundation sign pact on school management". Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  6. See: List of the Catholic bishops of the United States#American bishops serving outside the United States.
  7. Times-Dispatch, ELLEN ROBERTSON Richmond. "The Most Rev. Francis X. DiLorenzo, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, dies at 75". Richmond Times-Dispatch.
  8. Campisi, Anthony (2012-01-09). "Catholic school closings hit South Philadelphia especially hard". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  9. Tierney, Joseph P. (2012-01-30). "Catholic School Closings Need More Than A Miracle". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  10. "School closings continue assault on city's middle class". Philadelphia Inquirer. 2012-01-17. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  11. O'Reilly, David. "Schools panel head: Catholic school changes long overdue". Philadelphia Inquirerdate=2012-01-09. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  12. "Pope John Paul II High School: Our History". Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  13. Gary Puleo (June 11, 2010). "Final bell for Kennedy-Kenrick Catholic High School". King of Prussia Courier. Retrieved December 9, 2011.
  14. "World News Inc.: West Catholic High School". World News. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  15. "Gay Priest Fired From Chaplain Job Asks Pope To Meet LGBT Catholics In U.S". Huffington Post. July 20, 2015.
  17. See Miraculous Medal and Miraculous Medal Shrine and Art Museum webpage. Central Association of the Miraculous Medal website. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
  18. See St. Rita of Cascia and National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia official website. Retrieved 2011-01-28.

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